10 Best Monitor Calibrators for Designers

Arek Dvornechcuck
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I'm a strategist and designer based in New York who help brands grow by crafting distinctive brand identities, backed by strategy. Need help with your project?—Get in touch

If you’re wondering which is the best monitor calibration tool for creatives—Check this list of top 10 monitor calibrators to buy in 2021.

Designing is a very meticulous job that requires the artist’s vision of colors to be accurate.

This is where the monitor calibrator’s importance comes in.

Which monitor calibrator is best for designers?

A number of choices are readily available, however, they cater to different target markets.

Before choosing which monitor calibrator suits your needs, you should consider some things.

Including the speed, ability to detect ambient light, which type of monitors it can work with, additional features and printing.

What monitor calibrator do designers use?—Most would suggest using one from the Datacolor SpyderX series.

But if you want to explore other brands, you will find in this article other products that are definitely noteworthy.

From the most affordable to the most high-end monitor calibration tool, I’ve got you all covered.

You can also check out my other article where I featured the best monitors for graphic designers.

So without further ado, here’s my list of the top 10 best monitor calibrators for designers.

10 Best Monitor Calibrators

  1. Datacolor SpyderX Pro—Best for beginners
  2. Datacolor SpyderX Studio—Best overall
  3. X-Rite i1 Display Pro—Best for professionals
  4. X-Rite i1 Display Studio—Best for freelancers
  5. Wacom Color Manager—Best for Wacom
  6. SpyderCube SC200—Most affordable
  7. Spyder5PRO—Best for photographers
  8. ColorMunki Design—Best value
  9. X-Rite i1Studio—Most high-end
  10. ColorMunki Smile—Most accessible

How to choose a monitor calibrator

What should you look out for when choosing a calibrator?—You should take note of certain features before purchasing one.

How to choose a monitor calibrator

In choosing which calibrator would work for you, consider these factors:

  1. Speed
  2. Ambient Light
  3. Monitor Compatibility
  4. Gamma Correction
  5. Printing

And to further understand this monitor calibrator buying guide, here’s a more detailed explanation.

Speed

Calibrating is not a one-time thing since your monitor will fluctuate from time to time.

Most calibrators have features that solve this problem in just a minute or two and will even post a reminder for the next calibration.

So, as a designer, you must look for a monitor calibrator that performs well as well as fast.

So that way, you can work with your designs seamlessly and conveniently.

Ambient Light

Your surroundings affect how you perceive the colors on your monitor.

Some calibrators come with a feature that measures the ambient light in your surroundings and automatically adjusts the monitor brightness to make up for it.

You must look for a brand of monitor calibrator that has a high ambient light detector for you to get the most accurate color possible.

Monitor Compatibility

Not all monitors are built the same and unfortunately, not all calibrators can cater all kinds of monitors.

Fortunately, a number of calibrators are built to accommodate these uniqueness such as OLED lighting.

When buying a monitor calibration tool, you must consider the device that you are using.

By that way, you won’t end up regretting because you spend money for something that is not compatible with your monitor.

Additional Features

With the advancement of technology, calibrators are stepping-up too.

Some calibrators now come with additional features like calibrating scanners, projectors, and even mobile phones.

Some can also match color profiles across multiple monitors.

That’s why if you have a lot of budget to buy a new monitor calibrator, I suggest you go for those high-end ones.

Although there are a lot of monitor calibrators that are very affordable, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the best quality that you want.

Printing

Creatives oftentimes complain about their printouts not being on par with their digital output.

Choose a calibrator that can also profile your printer so your printouts will be accurate with your digital work.

You will be able to create the most accurate designs this way.

Keep those important features in mind as you read through my list of the best monitor calibrators available on the market so you can be sure that you’ll be getting the best calibrator for your monitor calibration needs.

1. Datacolor SpyderX Pro

Whether you’re a professional or just getting started designer, SpyderX Pro is the calibrator perfect for your monitor calibration needs.

The best monitor calibrator for beginners.

This is the most accurate and easiest-to-use calibrator for start-up designers.

Price: $169.99

Datacolor SpyderX Pro

Now, calibrating your monitor to achieve the precision you need will take just a minute or two.

SpyderX Pro is quick and easy to use with its 12 predefined calibration targets for state-of-the-art color accuracy.

It is capable of providing a higher level of color accuracy for multiple monitors with its innovative lens-based color engine.

With its room-light monitoring feature, SpyderX Pro automatically changes the profile for a more accurate screen color, shadow detail, and white balance while you work.

So if you’re looking for the best monitor calibration tool for hobbyists and beginners, this calibrator is perfect for you.

Specifications

Compatible Devices: Desktop
Product Dimensions: 3 x 3 x 1.75 inches

Pros

  1. Easy to install
  2. Easy to use

Cons

  1. Unsupported OLED
  2. Software issues may appear

Buy Datacolor SpyderX Pro on Amazon

2. Datacolor SpyderX Studio

The SpyderX Studio is the best overall monitor calibrator for every designer.

The best overall monitor calibration tool.

It’s features includes the SpyderX Elite, Spyder Print and Spyder Cube

Price: $499.00

Datacolor SpyderX Studio

SpyderX Elite allows you to calibrate monitors 4X faster than other Spyder products.

Spyder Print calibrates your printer and can create custom profiles for any printer, ink, and paper combination.

Spyder Cube sets out white and black values, giving you precise RAW settings for photo editing.

SpyderX Studio is the best choice for people who aim to upgrade their whole set up in a single purchase.

So if you’re looking for the best all-in-one calibration tool, this will be a great option for you.

Specifications

Compatible Devices: Desktop & laptop
Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 10.24 x 16.4 inches

Pros

  1. Quality performance
  2. Integrated monitor calibration

Cons

  1. Pricey
  2. Bulky; takes up space
  3. Not for beginners

Buy Datacolor SpyderX Studio on Amazon

3. X-Rite i1 Display Pro

The i1 Display Pro leads the industry in display and projector calibration, topped off with unlimited control.

The best monitor calibrator for professionals.

It uses Flare Correct, a technology that will measure and adjust your display profile by utilizing the glare on your screen for a reduced contrast ratio

Price: $225.98

X-Rite i1 Display Pro

The i1 Display Pro allows you to use the same profile on a number of displays and measures the ambient light in the room you’re working in for your project to be at its best on screen.

This calibrator is a must-have for video editors, as it is also integrated with video color standards.

It is considered a professional’s choice since it provides exceptional quality.

With the incorporated color standards, you can now configure your display for the best results.

So if you’re a professional creative that is looking for the best monitor calibration tool for your needs, this i1 Display Pro is for you.

Specifications

Light Type: LED
Brand: X-Rite
Style: I1Display Pro
Dimensions: 7.75 x 5.75 x 2.25 inches
Weight: 0.55 Pounds

Pros

  1. Works on projectors
  2. Upgradeable

Cons

  1. Expensive
  2. Not for beginners

Buy X-Rite i1 Display Pro on Amazon

4. X-Rite i1 Display Studio

The i1 Display Studio is a great monitor calibrator for those designers who are doing freelance work.

The best monitor calibration tool for freelancers.

It almost has the same features as the i1 Display Pro, but at a more affordable price.

Price: $159.95

X-Rite i1 Display Studio

Although this monitor calibrator does not have the ambient light monitoring feature, it can still deliver consistent color without the fuss.

It also has the Flare Correct technology for glossy screens and offers profiling for multiple monitors.

It is the best choice for color perfectionist designers because it produces incredibly consistent color with no stress, allowing you to focus on what you love.

i1 Display Studio’s  profile validation and evaluation tools, as well as an adjustable reminder, ensure that your monitor calibration and profile are always up to date.

Additionally, this is one of the easiest to use monitor calibration tools, so it is definitely perfect for freelance designers.

Specifications

Compatible Devices: Desktop & laptop
Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.7 x 2.1 inches

Pros

  1. Easy to use
  2. More affordable

Cons

  1. No ambient light monitoring
  2. Incompatibility with older Mac OS devices

Buy X-Rite i1 Display Studio on Amazon

5. Wacom Color Manager

The Color Manager is a calibrator specifically designed for Wacom’s Cintiq 27 models.

The best monitor calibrator for Wacom users.

It can give you a level of calibration fit for professional designers, as well as photographers and video editors.

Price: $119.93

Wacom Color Manager

This monitor calibration tool allows you to have infinite and total color control.

Its settings can be saved and shared across multiple monitors and work group profiles.

It can also be used on Apple and Android devices since it is mobile-ready and compatible with the most recent version of the X-Rite Color TRUE mobile app.

With Color Manager, your device’s color calibration is kept accurate as it automatically checks your display quality.

It also has Automatic Display Control and a display quality assurance feature, which ensure that the color accuracy of your display remains consistent in a variety of lighting conditions and over time.

Specifications

Compatible Devices: Desktop & laptop with specified Wacom displays
Product Dimensions: 9 x 4 x 8.5 inches

Pros

  1. Great performance
  2. Customizable

Cons

  1. Limited compatibility
  2. Software problems

Buy Wacom Color Manager on Amazon

6. Datacolor SpyderCube SC200

If you’re into photography and looking for the best budget calibration tool, then the SpyderCube SC200 is the calibrator for you.

The most affordable monitor calibration tool.

It was designed especially for artists that utilize lenses and editing software

Price: $54.00

Datacolor SpyderCube SC200

It helps you achieve accurate colors, providing all light information which are relevant for RAW processing and adjustments.

The SpyderCube SC200 is compatible with all RAW converter software, making it more convenient and easier to use.

And given that it is the most affordable calibrator in the list, it is a must-buy calibration tool for designers that have a limited budget.

Additionally, not only is this a budget-friendly monitor calibrator, but it is also very compact and portable.

This will allow you to work anywhere without being hassled about bringing a bulky calibrator.

Specifications

Product Dimensions: 3.15 x 2.76 x 7.49 inches
Compatible Devices: Desktop & laptop

Pros

  1. Portable
  2. Easy to use
  3. Affordable

Con

  1. Not durable

Buy Datacolor SpyderCube SC200 on Amazon

7. Datacolor Spyder5PRO

The Spyder5PRO is definitely a tool to consider for committed photographers and designers.

The best monitor calibrator for photographers.

By creating unique color profiles for each of your monitors, it will let you work seamlessly by adjusting their brightness level based on your room lighting.

Price: $189.99

Datacolor Spyder5PRO

It also allows you to compare and evaluate the performance across all your laptop and desktop monitors with its Display Analysis feature.

The Spyder5PRO also comes with a colorimeter, a dual-purpose lens cap, and a counterweight.

This monitor calibration tool is perfect for photographers who need to see the most accurate color possible.

It has a solution for advanced color accuracy for all of your laptop and desktop displays.

Not only will photo editing be easier, but you will also spend less time in the "print-edit-print" cycle and waste less ink and paper.

Specifications

Compatible Devices: Desktop & laptop
Product Dimensions: 2.73 x 2.93 x 1.71 inches

Pros

  1. Easy to use
  2. Accurate display

Cons

  1. Bugs included
  2. Software problems

Buy Datacolor Spyder5PRO on Amazon

8. ColorMunki Design

If you’re a fan of Pantone, then ColorMunki Design is the calibrator for you.

The best-value monitor calibration tool for creatives.

With its Palette Creation software, this monitor calibration will allow you to create and name unlimited custom color palettes.

Price: $399.00

ColorMunki Design

You can select colors from Pantone and other built-in libraries for your palette creation.

ColorMunki Design then allows you to automatically synchronize your custom palettes with design software such as Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and QuarkXpress.

It also comes with essential color control functions for calibrating displays, projectors, and printers with its spot color optimization.

Even though it is much more expensive than any other monitor calibrator available today, you can be sure that you’ll get the best quality possible.

So if you’re a designer that wants to invest in the best-value calibrator for your monitor, then the ColorMunki Design is a must-have calibrator for you.

Specifications

Compatible Devices: Desktop, laptop, projectors & printers
Product Dimensions: 12 x 8.25 x 3.25 inches

Pros

  1. Easy to use
  2. Great in scanning colors
  3. Accurate display

Con

  1. Software maintenance
  2. Expensive

Buy ColorMunki Design on Amazon

9. X-Rite i1Studio

The X-Rite i1Studio is a monitor calibrator made for color perfectionist designers.

The most high-end monitor calibrator for designers.

It allows start-to-finish color management with its spectrophotometer, calibrating your monitor all the way to your printer.

Price: $489.00

X-Rite i1Studio

It also includes a Color Checker Camera calibration software and Mini Color Checker Classic which you can use for your camera.

Your iOS mobile device can also be calibrated by X-Rite i1Studio through the ColorTRUE mobile app.

Take not that this monitor calibrator is the most-high end calibrator in the list, which makes it perfect for professional designers.

Its price is very reasonable if the quality is being considered.

So if you’re looking for the most functional monitor calibration tool for your professional needs, the X-Rite i1Studio is the best choice for you.

Specifications

Compatible Devices: Desktop, laptop, scanners, projectors & printers
Product Dimensions: 7.59 x 5.59 x 6.1 inches

Pros

  1. Portable
  2. Accurate display
  3. Easy to assemble

Con

  1. Software needs updating

Buy X-Rite i1Studio on Amazon

10. X-Rite ColorMunki Smile

The ColorMunki Smile is one of the most suggested monitor calibrators for on-the-go designers.

The most accessible monitor calibration tool for artists.

In just a few steps, it can calibrate your monitor using the same technology as other X-Rite products.

Price: $174.60

X-Rite ColorMunki Smile

If you’re looking for ease and quality, then ColorMunki Smile is the calibrator for you.

It also allows you to calibrate your iOS mobile devices by using the ColorTRUE mobile app.

You can now work anywhere without being bothered by complicated setup procedures.

It is ideal for creative and photo hobbyists who want to take the next step in digital imaging by editing, sharing, and printing their images with color confidence.

The ColorMunki Smile has intuitive wizard-driven software that allows you to see "before and after" results of your designs in real time.

Specifications

Compatible Devices: Desktop & laptop
Product Dimensions: 7.59 x 5.59 x 2.05 inches

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Affordable

Con

  • Software needs updating

Buy X-Rite ColorMunki Smile on Amazon

Conclusions

Have you decided which monitor calibrator to buy?—The Datacolor SpyderX Studio is definitely a crowd favorite.

You can also check out the other products on my list, which are also great, in case you want to explore other brands.

This list just serves as a catalogue for you to have a look at the features that other brands offer.

I highlighted different kinds of monitor calibrators that are currently available on Amazon.

Whether you’re looking for the best-budget calibration tool or for one that will suit your professional needs, you will surely get an idea from this list that I provided.

Additionally, don’t forget to keep in mind those things that are needed to be considered before buying a monitor calibrator—which I also mentioned in the buying guide.

Now that I’m done reviewing my top 10 best monitor calibrators, which do you think is the best calibration tool for designers?—Leave a comment below.

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